Ladyfingers (often called savoiardi[a] and in British English sponge fingers) are low density, dry, egg-based and sweet sponge biscuits roughly shaped like a large finger. They are a principal ingredient in many dessert recipes, such as trifles, charlottes, as fruit or chocolate gateau linings and for tiramisu . They are typically soaked in a sugar syrup or liqueur, such as coffee for the tiramisu dessert. They are also commonly given to infants, being soft enough for teething mouths but easy to grasp and firm enough not to fall apart.
HOW TO GROW
- Determine how to start your seeds.If you live in a place with hot summers and mild winters, it’s easiest to plant okra in your garden patch, rather than starting it indoors. You’ll want to plant the okra seeds in early spring, after the last frost of the year, when the temperature doesn’t dip below 55 degrees at night. If that doesn’t happen until late spring or early summer where you live, then it’s better to start your seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before the last frost. When the seedlings are sturdy and the weather warms up, you’ll transplant them to your garden patch.
- To start seeds inside, plant the seeds in peat seed starter and keep them well-watered. Put them in a warm, sunny room or use grow lamps to keep them warm during the germination period.
- When the weather warms up and you’re ready to transplant the seedlings, follow the same steps you’d use to grow okra from seed outdoors.
- Choose the sunniest spot in your garden.Okra grows best in full, hot sun. If you try to grow it in a shady spot, it won’t produce much fruit, if it lives at all. Okra should be planted in a location that gets at least 6 hours of full sun every day. Don’t worry that it’ll get too hot – okra really gets going at summer’s peak, when the sun beats down on the garden at its hottest.
- Correct the soil’s pH.Okra grows best in a soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. test your soil’s pH level to determine whether it contains enough acid. You can work in limestone or bone meal to increase the soil’s pH. If you’d prefer not to change the pH level of your soil using any drastic measures, you can simply work in plenty of compost, which will increase the pH over time.
- Enrich the soil with nutrients.Okra grows well in very rich soil that’s packed with nutrients. You can enrich your soil using compost, bagged organic fertilizer, or 4-6-6 slow release fertilizer. Either way, till the soil to a depth of 12 inches (30.5 cm) and work in 4 inches (10.2 cm) of compost or fertilizer using a garden rake so that it’s evenly distributed.
- Neglecting to add nutrients to the soil may result in okra plants that don’t produce a lot of fruit.
- Sow the seeds or plant the seedlings.When the weather is warm, it’s time to plant the okra in your garden. Sow your seeds 4 inches (10.2 cm) apart at a depth of 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm). If you started your seeds indoors, handle the seedlings very carefully and plant them 1 foot (0.3 m) apart in rows 3 feet (0.9 m) apart. Dig holes large enough to hold the root balls and gently pat the soil around the base of the plants. Water the garden to help set the soil.
- If you want to speed the germination of your seeds, you can soak them overnight the night before planting, or freeze them to crack the shells.
- If you’re transplanting seedlings, do not break their tiny taproots. If they get crushed, the seedlings will not grow.
- Keep the okra well watered.Okra should be given at least an inch per week of water. Water every morning to thoroughly moisten the soil, except after heavy rains. Okra can withstand a bit of drought, but it grows much better when given plenty of water throughout the summer.
- It’s best to water okra in the morning, so that the plants have time to dry before nightfall. If the water stands in the garden bed overnight, it could cause the plants to start rotting.
- When you water okra, try not to get water on the leaves. When the sun starts beating down on the okra plants, the water will act as a magnifying glass and burn the okra leaves.
- Thin the seedlings.When the seeds you planted have sprouted and grown to 3 inches (7.6 cm) high, thin out the smaller seedlings and leave the strongest ones standing. Thin them so that the remaining seedlings are spaced 1 foot (0.3 m) apart, in rows 3 feet (0.9 m) apart. If you transplanted seedlings that you started indoors, you can skip this step.
- Weed and mulch the okra bed.While the okra is still young, cultivate the bed to eliminate any weeds. Then cover the area around the seedlings with a heavy layer of mulch, such as pine straw. This will prevent additional weeds from sprouting and taking over the bed.
- Side dress the plants with compost.Since okra needs plenty of nutrients to grow, it’s a good idea to continue adding compost throughout the summer. You should side dress the okra with compost three times: once after thinning the seedlings, once after the first pods begin to grow, and a third time halfway through the growing season. To side dress, simply rake in a few inches of compost around the plants, so that the soil there gets enriched.
- You can also side dress with more bagged fertilizer or slow release fertilizer.
- Don’t side dress the plants toooften; three times is enough. Adding too much compost or fertilizer can hurt the plants more than it helps
- Keep an eye out for pests.Aphids, stinkbugs and corn earworms all like to feast on okra plants. The plants are hardy, and usually won’t fail on account of pests, but it’s a good idea to keep their populations low to get the most out of your okra crop. Inspect the stems and leaves regularly for holes, yellow leaves and other signs of pest infestation. You can pick the bugs off by hand or spray the leaves with soapy water to keep the pests away.
- Cut and come back.About 8 weeks after planting the okra, the pods will start to grow. Once you see the first okra pods emerge and mature, you can start regularly harvesting them. Use a scissors or a hand pruner to cut the okra pods just above their caps, where their thick stems meet the branches of the plant. Once you make a cut, another okra pod will emerge from the same spot. Keep harvesting the okra throughout the summer until the growing season slows and the plants stop producing new pods.
- Harvest the pods when they are 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) long.
- Harvest the okra every other day, and every day during the peak of the season, to encourage fast regrowth.
- You might want to wear gloves and long sleeves when you harvest the okra. The leaves and pods are covered with spines that can irritate the skin.
- Eliminate weeds when the plants are young, then mulch heavily to prevent more weeds from growing. Apply a layer of mulch 4 to 8 inches high. You should also side-dress the plants with 10-10-10, aged manure, or rich compost (½ pound per 25 feet of row). You could also apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.
- When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, thin the plants so that they are 10 to 18 inches apart.
- Keep the plants well watered throughout the summer months; 1 inch of water per week is ideal, but use more if you are in a hot, arid region.
- After the first harvest, remove the lower leaves to help speed up production
- Corn earworms
- Fusarium wilt
- They provide just 30 calories per 100 g besides containing no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
- They are one of the rich sources of mucilage substance that help in smooth peristalsis of digested food through the gut and ease constipation condition.The pods compose healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision.
- Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.Fresh pods are the good source of folates; provide about 22% of RDA per 100 g.
- Consumption of foods rich in folates, especially during the pre-conception period helps decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in the offspring.The gumbo pods are also an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, providing about 36% of daily-recommended levels.
- Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps human body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect it from harmful free radicals.
- They are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes and is required for strengthening of bones.